________In 1848 The Fox Sisters first reported that spirits were communicating through rappings in their Hydesville, New York home. At the height of their fame, they admitted they’d fabricated their story, and died soon after in abject povery. Nearly ten years after Kate, the youngest and last remaining sister, died, the body of a peddler was found in their basement.

They call me The Body in the Cellar.
I was the proof that what they heard
was real. But they ruined their careers
many years ago, confessing their hoax.

They said, on stage, they made it up.
And now I’ve been found; it’s my turn
to speak. I am the corpse in the floor,
buried and fragile. The girls once tied

an apple to a string; dropped and dragged
it across the floor. Tell me—if you
don’t believe—how they thought up
murder, knew I was tucked in

the foundation, under a blanket of concrete.
Look at my skull and tell me they made
it up; tell all the things they claimed
to never know. I’ve lived here a long time.

Katherine Johnsen